Way back in 2013, during my second year of university, I applied to work at an American summer camp (after spending about a million years staring at the application form wondering if it would be a good idea or not). It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done and was the most incredible summer of my life.
There are so many different companies out there offering American summer camp work packages, and I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching them all. In the end, I decided to apply with CCUSA, who made the whole process incredibly easy and simple. A few months after applying I heard back from Chimney Corners Camp for Girls near Boston, Massachusetts, and after a Skype call and face-to-face interview, I got placed there as the Media Instructor/Yearbook Assistant.
Interested? Here are 5 reasons why you should give it a go:
You’ll contribute towards an amazing experience and tradition for young people
Summer camp is a huge part of American culture, and for so many young people it’s the highlight of their whole year. For lots of the people I met and worked with, they’d been going to the same camp for years and years from a young age and had formed friendship groups there, so it was like a second home and an extended family. As a staff member, it’s so rewarding to help bring this once-in-a-year experience together.
You’ll make friends for life from all over the world
One of the most amazing things about working at a summer camp is the people you’ll get to meet and work with from all over the world. The staff members at my camp came from England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa – there were even a couple of people from Lincoln.
It’s an opportunity to teach a skill and learn new ones along the way
When you sign up to work at a summer camp, you can either apply to be a general counsellor, support staff member, or an instructor of a specific activity. There are so many jobs to apply for – my camp had a team of staff teaching a huge range of classes including watersports, hiking, music, photography, dance, cooking, musical theatre, creative writing and more. The huge range of job roles on offer means that there are plenty of opportunities to teach something you enjoy, and you’ll also get to learn a bunch of new skills from your fellow staff members while you’re there. (I had a go at sailing, horse riding, and songwriting, and failed spectacularly at all three).
Gain a uniquely immersive experience of American culture
When I worked at summer camp, it was also my first time in America, and it was a really amazing way to experience the country for the first time. During the 10 weeks that I was at camp, I got to do so many things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do on a normal holiday; I got to celebrate 4th of July with everyone at the camp’s carnival, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, go to a baseball game, go on staff trips to Friendly’s, a local ice cream parlour where the desserts were bigger than us, and at the end of camp we went to a nearby lakehouse and toasted s’mores by the water’s edge.
Travel the USA and beyond after camp
When camp is over and everyone has said goodbye, it’s time for part two – hitting the road! If you want to go travelling after camp, there are two ways you can organise it: Book everything before you get to America so it’s all sorted by the time you get there, or book it while you’re there with the people you meet at camp.
I went for the second option (partly because I wanted to go with the flow but mostly because I was too lazy to think that far ahead) and, after lots of late night planning and fighting with the camp’s prehistoric computer, a few of us booked a trip across the East Coast, going straight from camp to Boston, Niagara Falls, Washington, Philadelphia, and New York (including a diversion to Disneyland which was bloody amazing take me back pls):